Posted by Pamela on May 17, 2007
In Reply to: Termites in the woodwork or Great Damage Is Being Caused By Things We Cannot See! posted by Smokey Stover on May 16, 2007
: : : : Who coined the phrase "termites in the woodwork"?
: : : The phrase did not have to be coined. In parts of the world where termites are native, or where they have been introduced, there are always termites either in your woodwork or trying to be. Termites are not native to Great Britain, so I imagine the phrase might there be used figuratively. Or perhaps termites have extended their range when I wasn't looking.
: : : SS
: : Damage caused by termites can not be seen and the damage occurs over a long period of time.
: : Your phrase was supposedly coined by a Mr. Charles Schultze. He served as chairman of the United States Council of Economic Advisers during the Carter Administration in the early 1980s.
: : He was referring to the effects of economic inflation where prices rise faster than a worker's wages causing a slow, destructive erosion in a person's morale and ability to buy necessary items like electricity and food.
: You are a learned man, Bruce, with a good memory. Mr. Schultze didn't coin the phrase (it must have been said previously by a million householders), but he knew how to turn it into a vivid metaphor.
A related term is the use of "whiteant" as a verb as in "my staff are whiteanting me!". This is said in workplaces when someone is being slowly undermined in the hope that they will eventually fail in some way (for example, getting a bad reputation that they don't deserve). Pamela